Category Archives: Family

Once in a While

Today would have been my mom’s 97th birthday.  She’s been gone a while now.

She was a singer in her twenties, well known locally for her smoky, sultry voice.  According to one version of my parents’ “how we met” story, Mom was performing when Dad fell in love.

This was one of her favorites.

Happy Birthday Mom!  I can still hear you singing.








Filed under Cool people, Crazy family members, Family, Love, Missing Folks, Mom

Generally Speaking Redux

Maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that my brother, Fred, was a wonderful big brother.  I really don’t exaggerate.  If  you could have made up the perfect big brother, it would have been Fred.  But you probably would have given him a better name.

Fred is 3 years older than me.  And he played with me all the time.  He didn’t beat me up.  He wasn’t mean.  He let me tag along wherever he went.

He actually seemed to enjoy my company, too.  Or at least, it never occurred to me that he might not be enjoying it.  Perhaps I was late in picking up some social clues.  Anyway, I can honestly not remember Fred ever hurting me, or setting me up to fail, or doing any mean big brother things to me.

He was my hero.  When we tucked towels into our jammies and jumped off the back of the couch, I was not just pretending Fred was Superman.  He was Superman.  Of course I also thought that our dog, Tip, was SuperDog when we called him “Kripto,” tucked a dishtowel into his collar and pushed him off the back of the couch.

It was during the late 1950s and early 60s; we saw Westerns on TV and in the movies — The Lone Ranger, Branded, How the West Was Won, and more.  There were a lot of shoot outs at our house, too, because that’s what we played most of the time.   Fred invented great games for us.  Cowboys and Indians, gun fights, sheriff and posse.

Fred was always the hero.  Me?

I was the bad guy who got outgunned and had to keel over and die.

I was the outlaw brought to justice by the handsome sheriff.

I was the squaw who had to skin and cook the deer.

I always lost.

I felt good that at least I had a better part than Tip.  Tip was the deer, and Fred and I would chase him around pretending to shoot him with arrows.  Fred and his friends once caught Tip and tied him onto our broom and carried him Indian-style, to roast over our pretend fire.  Tip escaped and didn’t want to play Indian for a week or so.  We did not eat him.

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Tip was much less cooperative for some reason. (Google Image)

Losing wasn’t a condition for Fred to play with me, but it was reality.  Fred always won.  He was always first, fastest, bravest.  He was always the hero.

Fred’s pretend horse, Thunder, was faster than my horse, Lightning, even after Fred discovered that in real life lightning comes first.  Fred showed me pictures of lightning in “the big dictionary” – a huge reference book we loved to look at.  It had the coolest pictures and lots of words we couldn’t read.  If something was in the big dictionary, it was fact.  Period.  “In real life,” Fred said, pointing to a picture of a scary bolt in a stormy sky, “Lightning is faster than thunder.  But not with horses.”

I really didn’t mind.  If Fred’s horse was slightly faster than mine, that was OK.  We were a team.

But one day when Fred wanted to play Cowboys and Indians, I’d had enough of losing.  Maybe I was growing up.

“I wanna be the cowboy,” I insisted.  “You always get to be the cowboy.  I always get shot.”

“OK,” Fred said.  He didn’t argue or try to convince me to be the Indian.  I should have been suspicious.  But I’ve always trusted Fred completely.  I knew he would never be mean to me.

“OK,” said Fred, again, thinking up a new game.  “You can be a General!  I’ll be an Indian, ummmm, I’ll be called Crazy Horse.”

“OK!” I said, excitedly.  A General!  I wasn’t just cowboy.  I was gonna be a general!

I blew my bugle, called my troops to arms.  My imaginary troops and I rode off on our stallions to fight the Injuns.

I blew my bugle again and my (pretend) troops surrounded me.  We heard Indian war whoops from Fred and his Indian braves.  Fred/Crazy Horse and his braves came at me, surrounding me and my men on all sides.  But I wasn’t worried.  I was a general.  And even at that age, I knew that the cowboys always win.

And then Fred shot me.

I did not flinch.  I did not fall.  I did not succumb to my wounds.  I screamed bloody murder:

“I’m the cowboy!  You can’t shoot me!


Fred calmed me down and took me by the hand over to the big dictionary.  He turned the pages and showed me a picture of a general in a cowboy hat with blond curls.  He looked just like me.  Except for the mustache (mine grew in many years later).

Thanks a lot, Google

Thanks a lot, Google

George Armstrong Custer.

“That’s General Custer,” Fred said.  “Crazy Horse killed him.  Or Sitting Bull did.  Some Indian killed him at the battle of Little Bighorn.  The Sioux Indians surrounded General Custer and his men and killed them.”

I didn't have a chance

I didn’t have a chance

If it was in a book, in the big dictionary, well then,  I had to die.  It was right there in black and white with a color picture.  It was my fate.

We went back over to the battlefield (the front hall) and started the battle again.  Again, I blew my bugle and rallied my troops into a circle around me.  Again, the Indians pressed forward, surrounded us.

Again, General Custer got shot.  And this time he/I was brave.  I clutched my heart, tossed my curls and fell dead.

*     *     *

I owe my devotion to the underdog and my tendency to look everything up to my big brother, who is still wonderful.  Today, I will be visiting my big brother/hero, coincidentally, so I decided to re-run this post.

Because today,  June 25th is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And speaking once more as General Custer, I deserved exactly what I got.


Filed under 'Merica, 2nd Fastest Horse, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Anniversary, Bridgeport, Brothers, Cool people, Crazy family members, Curses!, Family, Good Deed Doers, Growing up, History, Huh?, Humiliation, Humor, Justice, Taking Care of Each Other, WTF?

Don’t Ever Let an Opportunity Pass

Have you heard the delightful news?  Dr. Heimlich, of Heimlich Maneuver fame, got his first chance to try out his, ummm, thing on a real, live, choking person.

It’s true!

Dr Heimlich is 96 and living in an assisted living facility in Cincinnati.  On Monday he was sitting at lunch next to a new resident, Patty Ris, 87, who started choking on a pre-Memorial Day burger.  So Dr. Heimlich did the Heimlich maneuver on her, and likely saved her life!  He had never before done that sort of Heimlich on an actual choking person before.  Here’s a link to the story.

Cudos, Dr. Heimlich.  You’ve saved many, many people over the 50 years since we’ve been using the Heimlich.  And a personal thanks from me.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, I thought I’d use this news story to retell a Goliath story.  Many of my newer readers haven’t read about my 120 lb alcoholic psycho dog, so here’s your opportunity.  Older readers don’t need to continue.  There will, however, be a quiz.



Normally, I am the best person to have around in a crisis.

I keep my head.  I think the problem through.  I react intelligently, organize other helpful responders and do what needs to be done.   Yes, that’s just the sort of person I am in real life.

Generally, I also manage to keep a running humorous commentary which is invaluable to the hoards of folks standing around doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Because, let’s face it.  Not everyone handles stressful situations without becoming certifiably stupid.

Of course every rule needs an exception, and this story is no exception to the exception requirement.

*    *     *

It was just after John and I bought a house for Goliath because nobody would rent to a young couple with a gigantic dog.

We were incredibly lucky in buying our first house.  It was a tiny split level cape cod type that defied description.  But it was just right for newlyweds.  The whole inside had been redone – we bought it from a contractor who’d lived there.  The kitchen was new, the paint unmarked.  Everything was bright and clean.  The coral colored carpeting was newly installed and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

It had been a long stressful day at work for me, so after John and I walked Goliath and had dinner, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing bath.  The one bathroom was on the “second floor” which was four steps up from the living room.   As it turns out, it was my last relaxing bath.  Ever.

So I wasn’t far when John announced from the living room below

“Uh, Lease?  We have a problem.”

John was fairly calm, actually.  Of course that would change.

“What’s the problem?” I said.  The water was still warm and I was just starting to wash away the day.

“The red ball is stuck in Goliath’s mouth.”

Shit!  I thought as I got out of the tub and grabbed my robe.  Why couldn’t he just pull the damn ball out and let me have my bath?  I was a tad annoyed at my new husband at that moment.

I went down the two steps to find John holding Goliath steady, calming him down, even though Goliath was relatively calm.

Goliath turned towards me and I immediately saw what John was talking about.

Goliath’s favorite tease-toy, a hard red rubber ball with a bell inside, was there in his mouth.  But it didn’t look like any big deal.  I looked at John with an I can’t believe you can’t handle this without me look.  John didn’t notice.

Red ball with bellStill available.  Photo Credit

That ball really was Goliath’s favorite.  He’d pick it up and taunt us when he wanted to play.  He’d wag his tail ferociously, and drop the ball, catching it in his mouth long before we could grab it from him to throw it.  It never hit the floor.  Goliath would drop and catch, drop and catch, drop and catch.  The bell inside would ring and he would wiggle his eyebrows and his back end.  Come on, grab the ball, he was clearly saying.  Let’s play.  But of course, he would never let us.

This time, as I dripped on the new carpet and assessed the situation, I could see that Goliath had caught the ball too far back in his mouth.  He couldn’t drop it again, and the ball’s size was just a little bit larger than his windpipe.

First I petted Goliath, soothed him, although he wasn’t really terribly upset.  In fact, he was just a little bit confused and uncomfortable.   I looked at John, astonished that he hadn’t just reached into Goliath’s huge mouth full of huge teeth, and pulled out the ball.

So I did.  Or at least I did the first bit — I reached into Goliath’s mouth, firmly placed my thumb and forefinger on the ball, glancing at John to make sure he would know what to do next time.  John and I watched in horror as the dog-slobbery ball slipped out of my fingers, lodging further into his mouth, right at the top of his windpipe, blocking most of his throat.

No longer able to breathe comfortably and no doubt pissed that his Mommy had made things worse for him, Goliath began to panic.  He started running around the house with John and I chasing after him. Trying to catch him, trying to pry the damn ball out of his mouth.

I’ve never felt so helpless.  So terrified.  It was later when I felt like an idiot.

John and I tried everything we could think of – we put the stem of a wooden spoon behind the damn ball and tried to pull it out.  But  it didn’t budge.  The spoon broke, naturally.  We went through a lot of kitchen equipment that night.

Stupidly, in spite of the fact that it hadn’t worked, we kept reaching into his mouth and trying to pull the ball out.  Each time we made it worse and the ball went down further.  With each effort we only made it more difficult for him to breathe, and the more panicked poor Goliath got.

Goliath ran back and forth between the kitchen, the dining room and living room – the three tiny rooms of our tiny little house.  John would catch him as he ran by and try something.  I would catch him on the rebound and try something, anything else.  Poor panicked Goliath raced across the three rooms, a half-dozen times.  And then a half-dozen times again.

Once when he caught Goliath, John reached into Goliath’s mouth behind the ball.  Goliath’s gag reflex, in constant action by that time, led him to clamp down on John’s right index finger.

“Shit!” John shouted as he pulled his hand away from Goliath and let him go.  Blood dripped from John’s hand.

Almost immediately I caught Goliath and did exactly the same thing, only Goliath bit my left pointer finger.  Then it was John’s turn again to be bitten, and Goliath got John’s left middle finger.   Blood was flying all around our new house, our new carpet.  We didn’t really care, though, Goliath’s panic had spread to John and me.

Goliath was going to die.

There was nothing we could do.  My boy would choke to death on that goddam ball in front of us.  And with each movement that Goliath made, the cheerful bell inside of it rang.  Alfred Hitchcock was directing the scene.

Maybe the image of Alfred Hitchcock led me to do what I did next.  Yeah, let’s just assume that that’s what happened. It is the only explanation.

I had to do something or my crazy, psychotic, beloved life-saver of a dog was going to die.  I was about out of ideas, and then I remembered a show John and I had watched on TV just the night before.

I went into the kitchen and took out our largest knife, knowing I had to give my dog a tracheotomy.

At the time, I was not yet a fake medical professional.  I had never done a canine tracheotomy.  I did not, in fact have a clue if dogs have tracheas, and if so, just where Goliath’s might be located.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference if I, ummm, otomied it.

But just the night before, Radar had done a tracheotomy on a wounded soldier on M*A*S*H.  And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I.  Goliath needed me.

Besides he was going to die.  That reality had become crystal clear.  I had to do something.  Something drastic.  And likely messy.

So I took the butcher knife from the kitchen to the living room to perform my surgery there, on the new carpet in the room that was now looked like a crime scene.  My blood and John’s was speckled all over the living room and dining room  rug and smeared onto the walls and door frames.  I stood, knife in hand, and looked around the living room for a clean spot on the rug.

Henkels Butcher KnifeAlso still available here where I got the photo

John had at that time caught Goliath who was still terrified, still panicked, but running out of energy and oxygen.  When John saw me with the knife in my hand and heard my plan, he must have thought

This woman can never get near my (future) children.”

But “Are you nuts?” was all I recall him saying.  Perhaps there were expletives mixed in there, somewhere.  Maybe.

At just that moment, Goliath keeled over.

“Oh my God,” I shouted.  “He’s dead.”  And I began to sob.

“No,” was all John said.  But he started punching Goliath in the stomach, which did not seem like a very respectful thing to do to a dead dog.  To my dead baby.

Out popped the ball.  John, holding tightly to Goliath’s muzzle with his two bleeding hands, breathed into Goliath’s mouth.   Magically, Goliath’s eyes opened.  Goliath took a very deep breath indeed.  So did we.

The Heimlich maneuver.  It works on dogs. 

There’s another thing I should tell you about the Heimlich maneuver.  It’s best to try it before attempting a tracheotomy.

*     *     *

Other Goliath Stories:

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Dogs and Other Nuts

What’s In A Name?

The Olde Towne School For Dogs


Filed under ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Crazy family members, Curses!, Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health, History, Huh?, Humiliation, Humor, laughter, Love, Most Embarassing Moments Evah!, Oh shit, Plagarizing myself, Rerun, Seriously funny, Seriously weird, Shit happens, Shit Your Pants Scary, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, WTF?

I Found My Donor!

Well, it’s been a while since I discussed the topic that is near and dear to my, ummm, heart.

Poop transplants!  — The ultimate solution to my Crohn’s disease woes.

OK, it’s nearer to my hiney, but you can’t claim you weren’t expecting that.

Earlier today I was discussing my future poop transplant with my boss.  (It’s true, I have no pride what so ever.)  She’s very interested in the idea.  She wants me healthy, of course, but really, I think she wants to see what happens from a scientific perspective.  And, frankly, I can’t blame her.  I want to know what’ll happen from a scientific point of view, too.  And from the perspective of a toilet paper consumer.

You may recall that  I’ve mentioned that you have to be very choosy when choosing a poop donor.  If the donor is fat, or depressed, or psychotic, well, the recipient can become fat, or depressed or psychotic.  I haven’t researched what happens if you choose someone immature, though.  Perhaps I should.

Anyway, the issue was on my mind tonight when I began reading the news. And I found my donor!

He is young and healthy, albeit a little younger than I was thinking of;  he’s living in Florida with his mother.  In fact, it was his mom who brought him to my attention.  Well, and to the attention of people with a deep seated interest in poop.

One day Katy Vasquez discovered that the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  And goes into mysterious places.  Because, You see, one day when she was changing his diaper, she saw this sign that things were going to get better.:


This picture was taken by my donor’s mom, Katy Vasques, and posted to Facebook and the Huffington Post (where I saw it).

It’s Holy Shit!  What more could I ask for from a donor?



Filed under 'Merica, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Beating that Dead Horse, Being an asshole, Childhood Traumas, Chronic Disease, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy family members, Crohn's Disease, Disgustology, Dreams, Family, Gross, Health, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Huh?, Humor, I Can't Get No, keys to success, laughter, Mental Health, Oh shit, Out Damn Spot!, Poop, Poop transplants, Science, Seriously funny, Seriously weird, Shit, Shit happens, Taking Care of Each Other, Useful thing to do with poop, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, Wild Beasts, WTF?


“A haircut will make you feel better, Lease,” my niece, Jen, said as we wandered the mall.  We were together in Florida to organize and attend my dad’s funeral.  It was December, 2000.

For reasons I still don’t fully understand, my brother Bob, who was Dad’s primary caretaker at the end, was insistent.

“Dad wanted to have Bobby Darin’s Mac The Knife played at his funeral,” Bob insisted.  So in the days before YouTube, Jen and I were on a mission, looking for a CD of the song.  It was no easy feat, let me tell you, finding that recording.*  Record stores were fading, and the stock held by the few remaining didn’t include too many hits from 1958.  Jen and I were getting tired and frustrated.

But Jen was right, I looked awful.

My hair is my best feature and always has been.  It’s strawberry blonde, thick and curly.  It does what it wants to do, which is good, because I don’t like to fuss with it.  And I always let whoever cuts my hair do what they want with it.  It always looks better than when I tell the expert what to do.

Into the salon Jen and I went.

Mellie, the hairdresser I ended up with, was young — 19, she said.  Her hair was black and pink, and she wore thick makeup and brass hoop earrings the size of hula hoops.

I looked at Jen skeptically.

“It’ll be fine,” she reassured me.  Of course, she wasn’t getting her hair cut.

I told Mellie to trim my hair, that I was going to a funeral and needed to be presentable.

“How about …” Mellie started talking about different looks.  But really, I didn’t care.


When she finished, she twirled my chair around like a playground carousel.

“There you go!  You look … sassy!

She’d given me the ugliest hairstyle I’ve ever seen — Jennifer Aniston haircut from friends.  Cut short in the back, with long sides.  It’s not a nice look on a human.

John and Jacob hadn’t been able to get to my Dad’s funeral — there were no flights available.  John was gentle when he saw my new do, though.  After all, I was grieving.  A month later when I had all my hair cut off to get rid of the stupid style, John said “I was really surprised to see you with that style.  You looked like Cooper [our English springer spaniel.]    Long curly bits around your ears and nothing in back.”

Jacob & Cooper in Alps ~2000

Yesterday I had my long hair cut to chin length.  When he was done, my longtime hairdresser Ric, who has never given me a bad cut, spun my chair around and proclaimed:

“Elyse, you look sassy!”




* We were, happily able to find a recording of Mack The Knife:


Filed under ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Conspicuous consumption, Dogs, Don't Make Me Puke, Family, Gross, Humiliation, Humor, laughter, Memoir writing, Missing Folks, Oh shit, Sassy

Earth Day/Birthday Redux

You may have seen this before, but I tried to write something new about my sister Judy.  And, well, this piece really just sums up who she was better than anything I’ve come up with since.

She’s been gone now for 16 years.  Not a day has gone by since that I haven’t wanted to talk with her, laugh with her, or, alternatively because she was my sister, smack her.  There really isn’t a relationship like you have with a sister.  Even long after they are gone.


Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the  Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here  is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 64th birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets food, shelter and work — to enable them to jumpstart their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.


Filed under 2016, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Beatles, Birthday, Childhood Traumas, Climate Change, Crazy family members, Family, Global Warming, Good Deed Doers, Growing up, Health, Heortophobia, Hey Jude, Holidays, Humor, It's not easy being green, Judy, laughter, Love, Missing Folks, Music, Peace, Plagarizing myself, Sisters, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, The Beatles, The Blues

Separated at Birth or Spawning?

You tell me.  Separated at birth?


I received these pictures in an email with no attribution.  I’m assuming they can be found on google, though.😉


Filed under 'Merica, 2016, 2nd Amendment, ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, All The News You Need, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Bat-shit crazy, Beating that Dead Horse, Being an asshole, Campaigning, Cancer on Society, Conspicuous consumption, Crazy Folks Running, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Do GOP Voters Actually THINK?, Elections, Elections Matter, Family, Flatulence, GOP, Gross, Huh?, Humiliation, Humor, Mysteries, Political Corruption, Politician Pussies, Politics, Poop, Separated at Birth, Shit, Shit happens, Stupidity, Tea Parties, Ted Cruz, WTF?